The USS Mount Whitney is serving as headquarters for Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO in exercise Jaguar 2014. (Courtesy)
BRUSSELS — NATO is in the midst of an exercise to train and evaluate the ability of NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Spain and Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFOR NATO) to respond to crises anywhere in the world at short notice. The exercise, called Jaguar 2014, is being carried out from May 6 to 16 in Menorca, Spain.
The exercise aims to certify STRIKFOR NATO to serve as a joint headquarters in commanding and controlling maritime expeditionary operations and in planning and conducting a NATO collective defense operation. The location for the scenario is the Baltic Sea area, where a fictitious country called Bothnia is endangering the security of NATO countries.
“The exercise was scheduled five years ago and planning started a year ago, so that it is happening during the crisis in Ukraine is coincidental,” said a NATO official.
The NATO Rapid Deployable Corps Spain (NRDC SP) and STRIKFOR NATO headquarters are exercising together, with the former on the island of Menorca and the latter on the USS Mount Whitney off the coast. For the NRDC SP, there will be more than 1,200 personnel on the San Isidro base.
Contributing to NRDC SP are Germany, US, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Turkey and Spain as the host nation.
STRIKFOR NATO, which is headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal, is a high-readiness, maritime-enabled joint headquarters directly responsible to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe for the command, control and rapid integration of major maritime and amphibious combat power for NATO.
There will be about 120 personnel on the USS Mount Whitney. Participating in the exercise on the USS Mount Whitney are the US as lead nation, Great Britain, Spain, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal and Romania.
The USS Mount Whitney (18,400 tons) is a Blue Ridge-class command ship of the US Navy with one helicopter on board. It is the flagship of the US 6th Fleet, made available to NATO as a sea-based Joint Task Force headquarters when required.
“It is the most sophisticated command, control, communications, computer and intelligence ship ever commissioned,” said Roy Thorvaldsen, chief of the NATO Media Information Center for the exercise.
“The exercise is part of a family of NATO training scenarios, developed to fit specific purposes and evaluation needs,” Thorvaldsen said.
The fictitious scenario has been used during NATO exercises since 2012. It was designed to plan ahead and execute an Article 5 (collective defense) NATO operation. ■